Love and Ruin

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

Returning to the life and loves of Ernest Hemingway in his guests, Paula McClain focuses on the only woman who ever left him in this well-told tale of his wartime romance and marriage to Martha Gelhorn, as celebrated for her career as a globetrotting journalist as he was as a novelist. Both their love affair and their professional failures, triumphs and rivalry get equal space in this tender and passionate fictionalized biography; any woman who had ever had to choose between love and work well find this much more involving than the Paris Wife, though both reveal the author's true fascination is with Hemingway rather than either of his wives.
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Paula McClain knocks it out of the park yet again. I enjoy her historical fiction when she writes about a very successful, way-ahead-of-her-time strong female. In Circling the Sun, McClain writes about Beryl Markham with such eloquence and respect. I didn’t sense that as much with Martha Gellhorn in Love and Ruin. The story is fascinating; Gellhorn was an extremely courageous and fascinating woman. It may be due to my preconceived notions about Ernest Hemingway and his history of being self-centered. But, this is a book about their relationship, not her life history. This is the main difference between the stories of these two women; McClain chose a different angle from what I expected.
After completing the book and flipping back thru the numerous more-detailed events of Martha’s brushes with war and death, I realized that McClain hit a fine line; she portrayed the love Martha had for Hemingway in such a light that it revealed the burden he truly was on her. While he was pouting her absence, she was tempting death and documenting the tragedies of war so the world couldn’t remain in its safe space and ignore reality. This was especially true when Martha was one of the first journalists to report the existing conditions of Dachau.
Martha was greatly affected by her day-to-day work, but for the five years she was in a relationship with Hemingway, she wasn’t free to fully devote herself to her career.
Hemingway was and will always be a colorful, creative person who devoted so much to American literature. But his sun pales and is a bit pitiful when paired with someone as headstrong and independent as Martha Gellhorn.
(I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thank you to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine and NetGalley for making it available.)
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It only took me a few paragraphs into Love and Ruin to remember why I loved Paula McLain’s earlier novel The Paris Wife so much – her writing is so good, she convincingly recreates people we think we have read and know so much about, whose work we have read and studied and loved and hated. She brings them alive in a way only a brilliant writer of historical fiction can. But she isn’t just a writer of historical fiction, because her work is a narrative of real lives, retold through her own mind, after deep research of their lives.

Love and Ruin is the story of Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway, written in the first person from Gellhorn’s perspective, interspersed with some paragraphs from Hemingway’s perspective. Hemingway, beloved, reckless, exceptional, toxic Hemingway: we know so much about him through his writing, his legacy, his contemporaries, but of his wives we know less. Or of most of his wives we should say, as Martha Gellhorn went on to become one of the most successful and well-known US war correspondents, work that she was already doing before she married Hemingway. Love and Ruin tells us a story of their relationship, beautiful and ultimately heartbreakingly impossible.

Love and Ruin captures your heart... I found myself thinking about it while walking around, telling my other half about it while we were eating lunch, trying to explain why my mind was in Cuba, why I admired Gellhorn so much, why I needed to revisit For Whom The Bell Tolls... It’s a beautiful novel, even if you don’t give a toss about Hemingway. It’s a wonderful capture of a time when the world fell apart, again and again.

Love and Ruin will be published by Random House on May 1st, 2018. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the advance copy!
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It's rare that I give a three star review to a book I consider well-written.  I think there were two things that set me back; the first is that this almost reads at the rate of a family epic, which was unexpected, especially after reading McLain's earlier book, The Paris Wife.  The second aspect is that this book reaffirmed my feelings of disappointment in Hemingway.  Yes, I know his life and experiences made him the writer he was, but...
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Another hit from Paula McLain, once again bringing to life fascinating historical figures and places.
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It’s now safe to say that I love McLain’s writing. This is my third book of hers I have not just read, but thoroughly enjoyed. I am not a fan of the historical fiction genre but for Paula, I always make an exception. Her writing is vivid, poetic, and full of tenderness for her subjects. Her books tend to span decades which is also something I do not usually enjoy in my books, but again Paula pulls it off! I think that’s a huge testament to her as an author, that I love her works so much when they contain elements that I almost always dislike in other writers. Okay, now that I have my fangirl-ing out of the way, we can talk about this novel specifically. Marty is an awesome heroine and I love the respect and appreciation the author has for her, especially in her note at the end. It’s unfortunate I have heard about Hemingway, of course, but not Martha Gellhorn. I am glad McLain is putting Martha front and center again so that more of Martys “footnote in Hemingway’s life” concern is combatted. Marty is a kickass feminist war correspondent, far before being an independent woman is celebrated or even accepted. At first I was concerned about McLain returning to the subject of Hemingway, but he is evolved here (as much as that man child can be) in comparison to The Paris Wife. And most of the novel is much more about Marty than him. The complexities of McLain’s characters are astounding, they come right off the page. And she’s able to set this novel in an extremely complicated back drop of a world war, and STILL she pulls it off. Oh dear, I am back to fangirl-ing. Why not five stars you ask? I felt that the appropriate amount of time was spent on the blooming of the relationship, but the withering felt quite rushed. That being said, read this book! Sincere thank you to the author, publisher, and netgalley for the ARC.
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Thanks to Net Galley for the ARC. I will read pretty much anything about Ernest Hemingway, fiction or non-fiction. So I read this because it was about him, not Martha Gelhorn. And I would have to say I would have enjoyed it more had it not been told in the first person from her perspective, the 4 star rating is a rounding up, but the result is that I adore Hemingway regardless, and now I want to know Gelhorn separately from him. Same thing happened really when I read Circling the Sun, so I look forward to getting to know Gelhorn in her own right. McLain has succeeded again.
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Paula McLain has given a voice to the somewhat invisible women behind powerful men and now we are able to glimpse the life of Ernst Hemingway's third wife, Martha Gellhorn.  Their love story reads like one of Hemingway's war novels -full of passion, forbidden love and more than a little danger. She in many ways broke more rules and lived a more fearless full life than Ernst because she went willingly into war not only as the only female reporter but sometimes getting their before even her male counterparts.  Marty Gellhorn would say that she lived life on her own terms and she far to independent to have lasted with the unpredictable love and ego of Ernst Hemingway.  This is a love story but also a vivid picture of journalists in war. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.
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This is a story of the relationship between Ernest Hemingway and his third wife, Martha Gellhorn.  Martha was the only wife to dump him; he didn’t like it.

But there is much more to the story than that.  Imagine my surprise when I was reading the acknowledgments in Peter Matthiessen’s book, The Tree Where Man was Born, and there was Martha Gellhorn’s name!  Yes, she was quite a woman.  No wonder why Hemingway was attracted to her.

The book dragged with descriptions of every day life in the beginning; however, things picked up with the adventures of a very accomplished Martha and the sad end of her marriage.

I recommend this interesting book about a strong woman who knew and was true to herself: a woman before her time.
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I think I'm in love with Martha! I'm a big fan of historical fiction and that love is only amplified when the historical fiction is about famous literary figures. Martha Gellhorn was Ernest Hemingway's third wife and for whatever reason, the one I knew the least about. She's also now my favorite (if it's OK to have a favorite ex-wife of a writer... It feels wrong, but I'm going with it). She was incredibly strong, independent, and talented and often overshadowed by her famous husband. The pair met as correspondents in the Spanish Civil War and fell in love. Hemingway ended up leaving his second wife, Pauline, so he could marry Martha (you may also remember McLain's book The Paris Wife, which was about Hemingway's first wife, Hadley) and their relationship was filled with lots of passion, both good and bad.

I'll admit I read The Paris Wife a long time ago and while I remember loving it, I can't completely compare Love and Ruin to it. However, I can tell you Love and Ruin involves more "adventure" as Martha is a war correspondent in several wars and we get to go along with her as she travels to incredibly dangerous locations. We also spend some time with Martha and Ernest at their home in Cuba and are given peeks into Martha's relationship with her mom and with Ernest's sons. My favorite part of the book was seeing McLain's take on Gellhorn's inner battle with herself on what she wanted out of her life and how to balance love and ambition. Every time I read a book about Ernest Hemingway's life, I both love him and hate him a little bit more. I have to say I love him a little bit more for falling in love with Martha, but I hate him for how he treated her and how apparent his jealousy was.

Thank you, Paula McLain, for giving us this beautiful look at Martha Gellhorn!
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Found the book hard to get into and not gripping enough
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Wow, I am SO impressed with this book. The story is told of Martha (Marty) Gehllhorn, telling of her life, her love for travel, being a journalist covering stories in multiple countries, several wars and military conflicts. She was a most remarkable woman, always with a pen and paper, and a desire to write and tell the true stories that were happening and affecting the real people, getting right up front and near the fight. She also had a great capacity to love, and she did love Ernest Hemingway. This book chronicles her life before, during and after Ernest. The writing was superb, the way the story was told, you could feel the love between the two, and also the struggles they both were having. Marty was a highly independent driven person that did not want to lose her identity. I learned a lot about Martha, Ernest, and how life would have been as a journalist during those times. I admired her tenacity, courage and her desire to succeed. I don’t remember the last time I read a book that I felt such a loss when the story ended, not only from the content, but from my time now over with Marty. This was an amazing book. I highly recommend. 
I thank Net Galley and Random House Publishing/Ballantine Books for allowing me the opportunity to read this advanced copy for my review.
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I find myself really liking historical fiction about literary characters and Paula McLain does an excellent job on this front.  I first read her The Paris Wife - a story about Hemmingway’s first wife, Hadley - I loved this novel - it brought in many more historical characters of that time period.  Her next novel picked up a character we meet in The Paris Wife, Beryl Markham.  Another real life person I was not familiar with but was so glad to learn more about her after reading, Circling the Sun, an excellent novel involving living in colonial Kenya in the 1920s - and the life of Bery Markham who becomes a record-setting aviator - unheard of for the time period.  This novel, Love and Ruin, was a great procession from The Paris Wife - about Hemmingway's third wife, Martha Gellhorn. Martha was a writer and journalist in her own right and the novel follows them both as they write as war correspondents.  Martha is with Hemmingway when they buy a house and live in Cuba. I found all three of these novels charming and they inspired me to look up and investigate many of the historical places and characters I meet through the novels.
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LOVE AND RUIN by Paula McLain is an intriguing work of historical fiction that chronicles the tumultuous relationship between journalist and writer, Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway.  Hemingway met Gellhorn while still married to his second wife, Pauline.  Ultimately, she became his third wife.   Their story is told from Marty’s point of view and is set mainly in the 1930s to 1940s against the backdrop of war and uprising.  On several occasions, Marty is right in the midst of the fighting, making her one the most “significant and celebrated war correspondents of the twentieth century”.  Hemingway and Gellhorn marry at the peak of his career as a famous American author, while she is still struggling to gain recognition for her work. She refuses to live in Hemingway’s shadow and continues to pursue her travels and writing independently, which leads to much strife in their marriage.   I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of their home in Cuba and their many travels.  The characters were very well-developed and believable, especially Martha Gellhorn herself. I felt I came to know her as if she was an acquaintance.  LOVE AND RUIN is a beautifully written and captivating novel with a plenty of drama, romance and history.  I highly recommend it.  Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read an early copy of this book.
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Love and Ruin, by Paula McLain, tells the story of the few years in Martha Gellhorn’s long life when she met Ernest Hemingway, fell in love with him, and was briefly married to him. McLain wrote about Hemingway’s first wife in her previous novel, The Paris Wife. Gellhorn was his third wife and possibly the one with whom he was most emotionally entwined. Ultimately, as I understand it from reading this novel, the marriage didn’t work because of both of their temperaments. Hellman was a writer of stories first, a journalist second, and lastly, a wife. She needed the freedom to travel the world to find her stories, whereas Hemingway needed a wife who would be beside him, literally beside him, wherever he went and whatever he did. In other words, both of them needed to be allowed to be themselves, and these needs clashed. 
	It is a common problem in relationships these days, but during World War II, when the story takes place, it was anything but common. Gellhorn was a strikingly unusual woman for her time, and it is a pleasure to read about her determination to remain true to her perception of herself, no matter what it costs her. And it cost her dearly. The love she felt for Hemingway was enormous, as was his love for her. Still, the relationship ended in shambles. 
	In a sense, the love story is second to the story of World War II. The book starts with Franco’s rise and the Spanish civil war. I’m embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t known much about Franco before reading this book, so I was grateful for the history lesson. Gellhorn and Hemingway’s romance flowered while the bombs fell as they both were in Spain to write stories about the war. The scenes of their attraction in the midst of war were some of the strongest in the book. 
	The war moves on, as does the romance. By the time the war is ending, so is their relationship. 
	None of this is new. Hemingway’s life has been painstakingly examined by any number of authors. We know from the beginning that the relationship was doomed, but that doesn’t matter. The writing in the book is flawless. It is by far McLain’s most absorbing, most thrilling writing. The book is written in first person from Gellhorn’s point of view, and I found myself believing that McLain had stepped inside Gellhorn’s mind and was channeling her. Although Gellhorn lived to be 89 and wrote numerous books and articles, I haven’t read any of them. Truthfully, I can’t imagine that she could possibly have been as good a writer as McLain is. Even if she was, I feel sure she would have been proud of this biographical novel.
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Love and Ruin by Paula McLain is a fascinating book about Martha (Marty) Gellhorn, a young woman who can’t wait to get over to Europe to write about what is happening as WWII approaches.  She met Ernest Hemingway on a vacation with her mother and brother to Key West and he encouraged her to go.  She was intrigued and impressed with Hemingway.  She wanted to use the friendship to help open doors for her career. But while in Spain, they have an attraction and she soon becomes involved in a romantic relationship with Hemingway.  Of course he tells Marty his second marriage to Pauline is a shell and they don’t love each other anymore.  Marty and Hemingway eventually move to Havana as Marty waits for Hemingway to divorce Pauline and marry her.

This book is mainly about Marty and her time with Hemingway.  Growing up I always enjoyed reading Hemingway’s books.  Now that I’ve read a few books about his life and about his marriages, he was a very selfish man who didn’t really care about other people’s feelings.  If one of his wives wanted a career like Marty, he got very jealous and accused them of not loving him and would start an affair while still married to a wife and wouldn’t hide the affair at all.  It was sad to see how he treated Marty when she wanted to go back and cover the war.  He was very insecure.

Love and Ruin is very well written and brought Marty and Hemingway to life.  I loved the times they were in Havana and I even did an internet search to see photos of their house.  I was a little disappointed that Marty so freely gave the Havana house away to Hemingway when she was the one that purchased it and she was the one that did all the renovations.  I felt like it was more her house.
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I was very excited to get back into Ernest Hemingway's life after falling in love with McLain's other book, The Paris Wife. This new book focuses on Hemingway's third wife, the fierce and determined Martha Gellhorn. She's a successful writer in her own right and wants nothing more than to travel to far-off places and report on the ongoing military conflicts. Her fiery, ambitious demeanor often butts heads with her husband, and we begin to witness the tensions they create.

This wasn't as "happy" or fun as The Paris Wife, but I really enjoyed the world McLain created.
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Even if you are not a fan of Ernest Hemingway (and I am definitely not), you will enjoy this book. I was not in search of another favorite author, but I found one in Paula McLain. “Circling the Sun” was my book club choice of the month, someone gave me a copy of “The Paris Wife”, and I had the opportunity to review “Love and Ruin” for NetGalley. I thoroughly enjoyed all three, but “Love and Ruin” completely pulled me in. Martha Gellhorn was an extraordinary lady, gutsy, intelligent, and willing to go after what she wanted despite the odds. The turbulent time period as seen through Martha’s eyes was easily visualized by the great descriptions and knowledge of the author. Her thoughts and internal struggles, though fictionalized, were vivid and relatable to many women, even in our time now. Thoroughly readable, believable, and entertaining, I highly recommend this book to my fellow readers.
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Love and Ruin by Paula McLain is a wonderful book. Her description of the war and dangers faced by Hemingway and Maude are amazing. She seems to understand their need for each other. We see Hemingway slowly falling apart. He grew depressed and so needy. I thought he would have kiiied himself at the end of the book. Glad he didn’t since she never would have recovered.
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